Q&A WITH GENE SIMMONS
October 20, 2009
By Jon Waterhouse

Nearly four decades after the band put on its first layer of make-up, Kiss continues stomping forth in its high heel stacks. Its 19th studio album, "Sonic Boom," recently arrived exclusively at Walmart stores. The $12 package includes the CD, a second disc of re-recorded Kiss classics by the current line-up and a DVD of a 2009 Buenos Aires concert. (Grab your Kiss M&M's and Kiss Mr. Potato Heads while you're at it.)

Marketing madman and Kiss co-founder, Gene Simmons, says there no sign of slowing. The brand, er, band has an animated TV series and Broadway musical in the works.

But Kiss, he says, is first and foremost a live experience. Long-time Atlanta fans and a new generation of Kiss lovers can see the pyrotechnic pageantry of the band Monday at Philips Arena.

You say "Sonic Boom" is classic Kiss.

This time around it sort of happened naturally. There is such a thing as the right time, right place, right thing. We were literally in the middle of playing the stadiums of South America in April, and we found ourselves getting together in [guitarist Tommy Thayer's] room with two guitars and trading riffs and writing on the spot. It happened so fast that the material was written in about a month and a half. Then we got into the studio and did the record in six weeks. One of the fastest records we've done.

What sort of modern technology are you using in concert these days?

We've poured millions back into the show to make sure there ain't a bad seat in the house. When you get the cheaper seats way up in the peanut gallery, sometimes the sound isn't good, you can't see much. No such thing at our shows. ... And the technology has enabled us to put Kiss on steroids, if you will. ... Our stage show is also like a Transformers kit. You can take this show and it actually balloons up to stadium size. We can physically move it into itself, so that's why it's flexible with any size hall that we do. It only takes money.

And you're definitely a marketing genius. Kiss products are everywhere. Anything you’ve every shied away from endorsing?

Kiss crack. That's not a good one. It has a nice ring to it, but it's not a good idea. Otherwise why shouldn't everything in the world be branded Kiss? Why not? I would change the name of the planet to planet Kiss. Now tell me that doesn't sound better than planet Earth. And everybody on the planet would wear make-up. You have four choices. You'd break your ankles walking around on the high heels, but you'd look cool.

Some folks in my neighborhood have a pair of giant cat props from an old Kiss tour. They set them out at Halloween, and it's the hottest trick-or-treat spot in the area.

I'm sure it is. I will tell you to you can go [online] and buy full Kiss outfits and Kiss make-up gear. And it's been going like this for 35 years. I remember the first time I had the sense that we became big was around 1975. We were in New York City. ...And I saw a guy dressed like me in a parade. And I said, "That's it." We'd entered the iconic lexicon.

KISS

7:30 p.m. October 26. $19.50-$130. Philips Arena, One Philips Drive, Atlanta. 404-249-6400,